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SIGN PETITION

The Testimony The Prosecutors Didn’t Let The Jury Hear (From Their Own Expert Witness)

MILITARY PROSECUTORS WITHHOLD EVIDENCE; ARMY RANGER GOES TO PRISON FOR 25 YEARS (recently reduced to 15 years) FOR SHOOTING AL QAEDA OPERATIVE

The Story

Michael Behenna

Michael Behenna

On March 20th, 2009, Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Ali Mansur, a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq.  Mansur was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation and was suspected to have organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.

During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.

Not only is this a miscarriage of justice on the behalf of Lt. Behenna, who was acting to prevent further loss of life in his platoon, it is demoralizing to the U.S. troops who continue to fight on behalf of the freedom and security of our nation. Whether it is U.S. border patrol agents, members of the armed forces, or FBI agents, no individual who is serving on the frontlines in the War on Terror should be so blatantly mistreated.

We urgently need your help to correct this terrible wrong against a loyal and faithful soldier. Please contact your congressman and ask them to intervene on behalf of 1LT Behenna. Below is a brief recap of the relevant aspects of Lt. Behenna’s case.

  • September 2007: 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna deployed to Iraq for his first combat experience
  • April 21, 2008: Lt. Behenna’s platoon was attacked by Al Qaeda operatives. The attack resulted in death of two of Lt. Behenna’s platoon members, two Iraqi citizens, and wounded two additional soldiers under Lt. Behenna’s command.
  • May 5, 2008: Known terrorist Ali Mansur was detained at his home for suspected involvement in the attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon
  • May 16, 2008: Army Intelligence orders the release of Mansur
  • Lt. Behenna, who lost two members of his platoon just weeks earlier, was ordered to transport Mansur back to his home
  • Lt. Behenna attempts a final interrogation of Mansur prior to his release
  • During the interrogation, Behenna is attacked by Mansur and is forced to defend himself. During the altercation, the terrorist is killed.
  • Lt. Behenna failed to properly report the incident
  • July 2008: The U.S. Army charges Lt. Behenna with premeditated murder for the death of Al Qaeda operative and terrorist Ali Mansur.
  • February 23, 2009: Lt. Behenna’s trial begins
  • Government and defense experts agree on the trajectory of the bullets killing Mansur
  • Prosecution expert Dr. Herbert MacDonnell initiated contact with defense attorneys explaining his agreement with the testimony of Lt. Behenna and his presentation to prosecutors supporting Lt. Behenna’s version of events.
  • Dr. MacDonnell is not called to testify in the case and instead is sent home.  Just before leaving the courthouse he picks up his coat from the prosecution room and says to the three prosecutors (Megan Poirier, Jason Elbert, and Erwin Roberts), ‘The explanation that Lt Behenna just testified to was the exact same scenario I told you yesterday.  Lt Behenna is telling the truth.’
  • Jack Zimmermann, defense counsel, asks prosecutors if they have any exculpatory evidence that should be provided to the defense (referring to Dr. MacDonnell’s demonstration). Prosecutors deny having any such evidence despite having been told by their own expert witness that Lt Behenna’s explanation was the only logical explanation.
  • Prosecutors withholding of this evidence allowed them to argue that Lt. Behenna executed Ali Mansur while seated when the forensic experts, including Dr. MacDonnell, agree that Ali was standing with his arms outstretched when shot
  • Lt. Behenna is convicted of unpremeditated murder and assault by a military panel of seven officers, none of whom had combat experience.
  • Dr. MacDonnell contacts prosecution requesting that the information provided in his demonstration be given to the defense.
  • Prosecutors provide such information after a verdict was rendered, but prior to sentencing.
  • At the request of the presiding judge, Dr. MacDonnell provides his information to the court via telephone
  • The judge orders both sides in the case to file briefs relating to a possible mistrial
  • After reading the briefs the judge set an additional hearing and ordered additional briefs, including one from the defense requesting a new trial.
  • On March 20, the judge denied defense motions to declare a mistrial and to order a new trial
  • Lt. Behenna was paraded in handcuffs through the Nashville airport, the Milwaukee airport, and the Kansas City airport enroute to Fort Leavenworth Prison
  • Lt. Behenna’s attorneys are appealing the verdict
  • Lt. Behenna is currently serving a 15-year sentence  (the 25 year sentence was reduced five years by the commanding general of 101st Airborne and reduced another five years by the Army Clemency Board.  The earliest he would be eligible for parole is after serving a third of his sentence.  Without parole or a new trial Lt. Behenna will get out of prison for the shooting an Al Qaeda terrorist in self defense when he is 40 years old.

1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was an excellent officer. He received his call to serve his country while attending the University of Central Oklahoma. He is from a family of public servants, his mother being an Assistant United States Attorney and his father a retired Special Agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He has served the Army and the United States with honor and dignity. To sacrifice the life of this Oklahoma soldier over the death of a known terrorist, is a breech of faith with all who are serving our country.

We’ll send you this DefendMichael.com wristband with any donation of $20 or more.

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Support Michael

We need your support now more than ever.  The government has unlimited resources and has spent accordingly.  1LT Behenna and his family hired civilian counsel,  Houston lawyers Jack B. Zimmermann and Kyle R. Sampson, at their own expense.   This Legal Defense Fund has been established for the sole purpose of helping ensure that 1LT Behenna has meaningful access to experienced legal defense counsel in the military prosecution.  The value of having experience in a case like this became very obvious when the issue of evidence withheld by the prosecution was discovered.  All donations to this Fund will be used exclusively for attorney fees and expenses associated with this legal defense and will be maintained in an independently administered trust account.  Funds will not be distributed directly to 1LT Behenna.

If you are able to help defray these costs, please send contributions to the:

1LT Michael Behenna Legal Defense Fund
c/o Jack Dawson, co-trustee
100 Park Avenue, Second Floor
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102-8099

or Rachel Lawrence Mor, co-trustee
3037 N.W. 63rd Street, Suite 251
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73116

Please read our Legal Disclosure before donating. Thank you for assisting Lt. Michael Behenna.

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Responses

  1. As an infantryman and proud American I am completely disgusted that the life of a known terrorist is worth this soldiers life. Even after his term is served he will no doubt get a dishonorable discharge from our government. I cant even believe that someone who voluntarily joins the military to defend his country during a time of war could be called a murderer by the people he selflessly served. F!@# them and anyone who thinks this way, his life is worth more than the entire middle east and it should be seen that way by every American!

  2. Michael,

    I sincerely hope your case is overturned in appeals. I cannot believe the perfect storm that seems to have put you where you now sleep. You have a great family supporting you. I can not understand how God is allowing this to happen besides to rally some of the most experienced legal professionals in the country starting with your mother and father and moving right up the ranks. I can only assume that God has a plan and that plan is to show how absurd your trial was and your treatment. Your mother prosecuted Timothy McVey and is clearly familiar with the law as is your father, an over a decade of homicide investigation under his belt. THESE ARE NOT THE PARENTS AND FAMILY OF SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT CARE ABOUT “THE RIGHT THING” TO DO. Please everyone who reads this, put the link to this page in an e-mail and send it to every co-worker you have asking it to be forwarded to all their friends. God Bless Brother. And Thank You.

  3. The truth is, this al queda scumbag was probably a CIA asset and some desk jockey at the central “intelligence” agency got pissed because some random Army officer killed the dirtbag after he was ordered to bring him home. The CIA was probably paying this idiot to give them intel (which would definitely be false intel, that’s the only intel the CIA seems to be able to get.) and that’s why he was magically ordered to be released. I just want to know who ordered him to be released and why.

  4. As a combat vet of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan I’m appalled but not surprised that this could happen to an officer in a hostile combat zone. There is a saying in the military “Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” I just never would of thought that his 12 judges would be officers with NO combat experience. You never know what a man is thinking in a hostile combat situation, if you feel that your life and the life of your men is in danger you react to that threat and eliminate it. Im sure that is what LT Behenna was thinking. I don’t see how the military can steam roll LT Behenna and still expect soldiers, sailors and marines to go out and do their jobs properly. This is the type of thing that can cause unnecessary casualties.

  5. They released a known Al Queda operative (I thought we were there to capture or get rid of them?) and disallowed evidence to clear our soldier for acting in self defense. Something’s wrong with this picture and it should be investigated. Call in the big guns, contact McCain and other Reps/Senators on the Armed Services Committees who support our troops.

  6. Why did Army Intelligence order the release of an Al Queda operative? You call that intelligent?

  7. He’s a HERO! and should not be in prison. Ridding the world of terrorists is what the war is all about——isn’t it!!!!!!!!!!!!!???
    Why would any person want to serve a country which will treat him/her that way? I pray that he’ll soon be released.

  8. To Michael:

    You will always be in my prayers until the day you are released.

    This is war. The terrorist are the enemy. We know something is wrong when they send home your defense. All these men that are in prison should be released immediately.

    To parade a soldier through the airports and put them in solidarity confinement is wrong.

    We will not rest until this unfair atrocity is ended.

    Mary Moon

  9. Never in my life have I been more ashamed of my country then I have been at the treatment of men in the military that have servied our country and then cast aside. You have been used and cast aside. I apoligized to you for that. I honor you for your sacrifice and pray for your release.

    Thank you and God Bless

  10. one ranger to another, thats complete crap! I cannot believe what I have read….Keep your head up, You do have support!


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